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swelling in my feet and legs after surgery.

krazyangelkkrazyangel Posts: 31
edited 06/11/2012 - 7:31 AM in Lower Back Pain
:?? Hello to everyone. I am a month post op. My back is doing great the Dr. said. My problem is that my feet and legs are swollen. They have been swollen since the day I came home from the hospital. I have been put through every test that I could be put through. The results from all my test have came back good. I am on a fluid pill and they still are swollen. I mean swollen from my toes to the top of my thighs. They hurt to touch they is how badly they are swollen. If anyone has been through this after surgery please give me some advice. My surgery was L5/S1 fushion with bone graft and hardware. Rods and screws on April 14th. Thanks for listening and putting up with me in chats. Talk to you guys and gals later Theresa Aka Krazyangel


  • I assume you have checked out any medications that you have been on....

    Was your surgery through the front?
  • yes i have been check about meds. and been put through ever test to make sure i dont have a blood clot. the test results come back great. i was cut from the back. i am going to ask my dr about RSD. if anyone has any advice just post it please.
  • Has anyone explored the possibility that you are having a reaction to the hardware? It is not at all common, but it does occur from time to time.

    I remember another woman who had similar swelling after lower lumbar fusion, and I am trying to remember her diagnosis. It was something odd, and she had other medical problems, too.

    I'll post if I think of it.

    Does the swelling change any according to time of day? Did it come on gradually or did it happen all at once?

    Hang in there. Someone will figure it out.

    xx Gwennie
  • i am suppose to be having a CT done soon. about the hardware thing that is why he wants a CT scan do i just have to get it approved first. the swelling is the same all day. it is bothering my right knee real bad. i have been swollen for awhile now. i am getting really tired of it. its more so cause i dont know whats going on and i want to know. if you can understand what i am saying. thanks for posting.
  • My mom had surgery 8 days ago on her back. She had a fusion on the lower back(I think its L4 and L5) they went through the front and put screws in the back. She also had bone graph on her right hip. As soon as she woke up from surgery she was complaining of pain in her left leg and foot. Now she is home and from her toes to mid-calf is extremely swollen on that left side. She has had two ultrasounds for blood clots and nothing is showing up. Just seeing if you have any suggestions....
  • It could be increased veinous pressure. What happens is that the large veins in your abdoman (Vena Cava) run along your spine. When you have a surgery, there is swelling at the spine area and the surrounding area. When you lay down flat on your back or even to the side right after sugery, the vena cava can get compressed a little and this can cause the veinous pressure to build up in the lower extremities.

    I would try lying on your left side as comfort permits and then alternate from side to side for comfort.
    Elevating your legs will also help.
    Gassy foods and anything that could cause increased abdominal pressure, should be avoided.

    All the lasix in the world won't stop fluid buildup in the lower extremities if it is caused by decreased veinous return.

    Its the same process when a pregnant woman has low blood pressure. By having the mother to be lay on her left side, it increases veinous return and brings up the blood pressure while decreasing veinous pressure to the lower extremities.

    Give it a try....

    Simple and no risk involved.

  • Another thing is that you were in the prone position (on your stomach) throughout the surgery process. This also causes alot of intra-thoracic pressure and increased inferior vena cava pressure. Like stepping on a garden hose and the pressure backs up.

    If you have been checked for a Thrombus (possible but not likely due to both legs being involved)tests should still be run. If there are no other obvious problems noted, then try the left side as much as possible.

    If you start to feel dizzy,confused, chest pain or short of breath, call 911 ASAP! It could be sign's of a Pulmonary Embolism. Google it and know the sign's.

    If you get increased pain behind any or both knee's, it could be sign of a thrombus. Consult your Doc ASAP if you do.

    Although rare, these sign's should be taken serious.


  • I had a Fusion and Discectomy on L4-L5 and L5-S1 in late December 2008. After surgery, I began having paralyzing spasms while laying down or attempting to stand up from the edge of my bed. I then started Neurontin, on top of my Lisinopril for blood pressure and ES Vicodin for pain. The Neurontin was working very well. It had cut my spasms down to almost none! Shortly after I began taking it though, I started to notice swelling. I ended up in the ER because I was somewhat disoriented as well as swollen. I had blood work and an EKG done but blood infection and Congestive Heart Failure were ruled out. We then decided it must be due to the Neurontin. I was scared to death to go off of it or even cut it down in fear of more spasms. While in the ER, I was put on Zofran, Morphine, Lasix, & Potassium. I continued the Lasix and Potassium at home for the next two weeks. I cut my Neurontin down but spasms quickly returned. My insurance will not cover Lyrica so I upped my dosage again for the Nuerontin...and then the swelling was back. I stopped taking it all together. I dread the spasms but the pain from the swelling is very bothersome as well. Night time seems to be the worst. I have now been off the Nuerontin for approximately 4-5 days and the swelling is not going away yet. I stopped sleeping in my bed completely. I went purchased a lift chair and am now attempting to sleep in it. Is this normal to still have swelling after 4-5 days or should it be gone by now? I found out I may be looking at another Fusion soon due to another herniated disc found in my post-op xrays. Could this possibly be from nerve compression rather than Neurontin? I am at my wits end!
  • It sounds like you may have decreased lymphatic circulation due to the neurontin you are taking for the paralizing spasms. I would try thigh flexing exercises and talk to your doctor about ace bandage wraps to each leg mildly at first and at about 15 minute intervals. What you are trying to do is increase the lymphatic flow from your lower extremities. keeping your legs elevated as much as possible will help too.Especially after a hot shower or bath. If you develope any pain or pressure behind your knee's, call your doctor. This could be a blood clot. Its rare to have a clot in both legs at one time but it is possible and you have had all the workups for everything else as you stated.. with the time frame your are talking about here, I would say that the leg exercises will help. The wraps will too. The neurontin is most likely decreasing the muscle tone more than needed and cutting the lymphatic flow.good luck,

  • Did you find any answers re: RSD or hardware reaction? My mom just had spinal fusion from T-12 through the sacrum. She has your exact symptoms!
  • I too stopped neurontin in order to reduce swelling of feet and lower legs. it took about a week before swelling was completely gone. one side effect i received when stopping neurontin was a feeling of depression. dr. perscribed lyrica which eliminated depression. i stopped the lyrica after two days and continued to feel well. it's been 45 days now since swelling subsided and it never returned.
  • I am 6 weeks past a liver resection and my feet and legs are so swollen ts insane. I found that I have clots in my abdomen deriving from HIT reaction to Heparin before and after surgery. So all goes well withsugery and the hospital comes in and totally screws up my circulation!! They say in time the new blood thinner should loosen up the vena cava clot but who knows....Has any one gone back for treatment to fix clotts and if so what do they do.

    Thank you
  • Several weeks ago I had gall bladder surgery. There were three small incisions made during the operation. After surgery one of the incisions constantly leaked a clear fluid and my legs and feet started to swell to the point of some major discomfort in my calves and ankles. The drainage continued for 3-4 weeks and finally stopped but the swelling still persists. I was prescribed a water pill and was told to elevate my lower extremeties as much as possible. However, neither the water pills or the elevation helped.

    In addition it was determined my abdoman contained a considerable amount of fluid in it but the doctors have not been able to determine why all this started directly after the surgery. Meanwhile I continue to deal with the swelling and associated pain and stiffness in my knees and ankles.

    A couple of days ago I was working in the yard and scratched my left leg on some weeds/rose bushes. The healing process has been hindered due to the same fluid drainage I had with the gall bladder incision from those scratches. These scratches continue to drain and I constantly feel bloated due to the fluid build up in my abdomen. I cannot eat regular meals but instead snack three or four times a day. Actually, I do not feel hungry but eat to maintain my metabolism. I have gone two days without eating in the recent past but lacked energy and had problems with my concentration.

    Does anyone have and ideas or suggestions for me?
  • Hi, I just had the same spinal fushion as you did I am 8 weeks post op. I see your surgery was a few back I was wondering what your outcome was with the swelling/edema, I have the exact same thing happening to me. I was in the hospital and they ran all the test and everything is fine but no one can pin point the edema. They have me on lasix/potassium with no great results. I was just wondering with time did the edema/swelling go away. I hope so because this is very discouraging and painful..... Please respond back ))) Thanks Renee
  • Dear Soulmate2215
    I noticed your post is recent. On July 12, 2011 I had a spinal fusion L4L5. I too am suffering with leg and feet swelling. My doctor says it's due to the nerves, and I just need to walk and it will eventually get better. I do walk alot but I still have the swelling, it's really getting to me now and find it really discouraging. I am currently on no meds for the swelling, just pain meds.

    Please post if you find something that works for you and I will do the same. I have another Dr's appt in 2 weeks I am going to discuss it with him again.
  • Hi Juliejjackson,

    I will be 3 months post op on Sept 7th,( spinal Fusion S1,L4, L5 ) and the swelling is still very bad. Today my stomach swelled up so bad I look 9 months pregnant, my legs and feet are still swelling. I walk twice a day about 1/12 miles and it does'nt seem to be helping. I am still on 40mg of lasix and potassium for about 3 weeks now. I am pretty active at home also but when I am not doing anything my feet are up, and I sleep with 2 pillows under my feet at night.
    My pain is not bad from the surgery itself, I do not take any pain meds, I can deal with the pain I have without any meds but a lidoderm patch at night.
    I have an appointment next week with my Ortho I wish he will be able to tell me something, as I was admitted in the ER about 3 weeeks ago and they ran every test possible and I checked out to be in prefect health except the swelling which none of the doctors can tell me where it is coming from ....just in pain from the swelling (edema) and getting disappointed that no-one can tell me what is going on. I hope you are feeling better and yes please keep me up-dated as I will with you.

    If there is anyone else out there on this forum that can help with our problem that would be great.

    Just need some positive on this issue :(( Thanks

  • Did they give you TED stockings to wear during the day for the leg swelling? They would help get the circulation going. Also believe it or not unless the Dr. restricted your fluids water can help the swelling actually go down so try to drink 8 glasses of water a day.

    You may get more responses if you start a new post in surgery section just go to the left hand column to where it says forum topic or create content and post. I hope this resolves soon for you. Charry
    DDD of lumbar spine with sciatica to left hip,leg and foot. L4-L5 posterior disc bulge with prominent facets, L5-S1 prominent facets with a posterior osteocartilaginous bar. Mild bilateral foraminal narrowing c-spine c4-c7 RN
  • Reread about vena cave on may 28, 2009 by medic 47 in this thread and my thread topic "severe swelling and weight gain"". I had tremendous relief from 2 days in bed with legs elevated above my heart. And the 15 lb weight gain resolved in 4 weeks. All the fluids during surgery and I think a little prob with vena cava cause my body to blow up, but, with time and elevation corrected itself. The lasix did absolutely nothing. Hope this helps. PM me if you need more info
  • Hi Charry and Rascal2717, Thank you for your responses back.
    I wore ted hose for 5 weeks and they did nothing for the swelling, I also drink 8 glasses of water a day and no relief from that either.
    Rascal I did try laying in bed with my feet raised for the 2 days and it seemed to help a bit but as soon as I started my regular routine all the edema came back, I also read the post by medic 47 I really don't know if it is the vena cava maybe but laying on my side hasen't helped either.
    I am still 27lbs heavier from the time I woke up from surgery mostly in my stomach and legs now, my feet seemed to go down a little.
    I also created a new post about 3 weeks back and I had over 150 views but no responses.
    I am just hoping time is my best friend and with time all this edema and weight will come off of me.(the edema is really bringing me down, plus I have no cloths or shoes that fit anymore, thank goodness it's summer now and for stretch shorts and flip-flops)

    I also see my Ortho next week maybe he will let me take my body brace off and maybe start physical therapy. And hopefully let me drive as I have been restricted from driving.
    I hope all of you are pain free and may you heal quickly. Honestly, I don't think nobody who has not had this surgery realizes what we are going through.

    Everyone Enjoy you Holiday weekend..Stay Safe/have Fun...
  • Not sure if this might apply? I too have had edema since surgery (2 years ago!!), and oddly I just quit smoking a couple of weeks ago, and I've lost 12 pounds, and the edema is virtually gone.

    My GP and I were blaming it on my 300mg of Lyrica!!! Just a thought if you smoke. If not, yeah...TED stockings, medications can do it, diet, food intolerances etc.

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • Hi Aviatrix36440 and Friends

    Glad to hear your edema is finally going away
    Yeah :-)) I was a smoker but quit after my surgery so I have'nt had a cigarette in 3 months.
    Just got back from my Ortho visit and some good news my bones are fusing nicely and he wants me to wean myself out of this back brace and I will be starting physical therapy 3x a week.
    The edema is still a mystery to all of my doctors ??
    no-one knows what is causing it or any other plan of action to get it to go away. I am still on 40mg of Lasix and potassium a day and 27lbs heavier since the day after surgery.
    I walk at least 1 mile a day and am pretty active, the only other problem I have besides the edema is when I sleep I get bad spasms and wake up with numb feet and hands, my doctor said that is due to my muscles not be worked enough, and physical therapy should help with that,
    If anyone else might have any ideas for me to get rid of this edema I would appreciate it...3 months of all this excessive water weight is depressing.

    I wish everyone a good and painless week....
  • When I went off lyrica and neuron tin, 7weeks pre-op, the weight came off without even trying. lyrica easily added 15 pounds without changing my eating habits at all.

    As a result of surgery, On July 22 I have been experiencing tremendous nerve pain in both legs from upper thighs to toes, then became shins to toes that is gradually getting better. Originally felt like hours of lightning bolts, then changed to hand grenades and now feels like electric currents. This nerve pain lasts for hours but, I refuse to go back on the neuron tin, because I am vain and have worked too hard to fit into my skinny jeggings and size 6 pants after being a size 12 for the years I was on the lyric.

    From my experience, the more you elevate legs above the heart, the sooner the swelling will dissipate. Eventually, your body will reabsorb the fluid and the swelling will subside.

    Hope you see increased improvement!
  • Hello,
    I am 2 years post op and I am in no pain what so ever as far as my two rods and four screws had L4/L5 fused was bone on bone prior for about 2 years and MRI never even showed it. Anyways I am writing as On August 12th I quit smoking cold turkey still do not know what made me quit and then Sept 22 had fusion. Since then I have tried so hard not to gain weight and have gained a lot of weight and have edema in legs thighs and belly so much in belly hard to breath if bending over. I also have had a ton of test to figure out swelling and cannot figure it out!! My legs ache from the swelling and it does not matter if I keep feet up which is hard for me as I am active cleaning carpet 7 days a week. No reason to have any weight as I eat mostly chicken turkey and salads. Any ways I also have electrical currant feelings in both legs and a vibration in my stomach so much that I keep checking my pocket for my cell phone!! Someone please help!! Thank you jackie
  • my mom hade spine surgery august 3rd 2011 the surgery went well.She stayed their for a while well the next day august 4th 2011. They hade took an x ray on her back well i guess when they closed her up a vane from her leg went in to her back bones where they did the surgery.so that day they hade to re open her back to take out the leg vane. its been over two months she has not drove at all her left leg is swallon and she says its numb she can barly get around the house with a walker shes in alot of pain even with the pain pills she has.she has therapy every week to work on her foot n leg.she keeps saying that it wont get better that shell never drive again is their anything you sugest she can do i dont want her giving up and plus she use to pick me n my bro from school bt now she cant n my dad takes the car you will not only be helping her but the hole family would love to hear what u gotta say thanks

  • Please write down your concerns and see your Drs for follow up. This could be nerve related issues that medication may be able to help and TED stockings or could be another medical issue.

    This is a support place for people with spine injuries but there's no Doctor here to give advice and it's important you let your Family Dr. and Surgeon know what's going on. Take care and see your Dr. soon. Charry
    DDD of lumbar spine with sciatica to left hip,leg and foot. L4-L5 posterior disc bulge with prominent facets, L5-S1 prominent facets with a posterior osteocartilaginous bar. Mild bilateral foraminal narrowing c-spine c4-c7 RN
  • I have had my legs swelling since I had back surgery I wasn't even out of the hospital when my legs was swelling,but its been a few years since I have had my back surgery it was back in 2006.Is there any test they can do to see if it is a reaction to the hardware??? Cause a lot of the doctor's I have to deal with blame it on because I don't get around much because of the nerve damage my back did to me and they blame it on because my mother has it and my late grandmother,but thing is they both have and had back problems but they couldn't or won't get nothing done about it.I didn't have any swelling in my legs before surgery the only swelling I had was ankle swelling where you can see a little ring where your sock stops but that was all.If anyone can help me please do I'm sick and tired of fighting this and worried about having to go back into the hospital.Thanks
  • i stared pool walking {only 10 mins with a brake} and i noticed that both my lower legs and feet have swollen too .i am so pixxed off as i was enjoying going to the pool .i am resting over the weekend and will try again next week .{had full med in hospital} so i don't know why its happening to me ??just my luck
    1997 laminectomy
    2007 repeat laminectomy and discectomy L4/L5
    2011 ALIF {L4/L5/S1}
    2012 ? bowel problems .still under investigation
    2014 bladder operation may 19th 2014
  • My husband had a Fusion L3-L5 with rods and screws, laminectomy and a decompression (from cysts that had to be removed) on July 23, 2012. His first post op appointment on Aug. 7th (2 weeks post op) he was doing great, walking and pain getting better. He takes Norco 10/325 for pain. The doctor was located in Los Angeles, which is 60 miles one way from where we live. So we drove 120 miles that day with him sitting, mostly upright, sometimes reclined. When we got home he started having problems---he tried to get up from the couch from a reclining position and he felt like he pulled a muscle---I really think it was a muscle spasm. Now we are back to square one with his progress. Just a few days ago I noticed that his feet were swollen (it is worse on the right side). The only meds he is on are his diabetic pills and Norco for pain. In the hospital he had the anti-embolism stockings on and was hooked up to something that compressed his calves.
    He was in the hospital for five days. He uses a walker and has a brace that he uses out of bed. I probably will take him to urgent care just to ease our minds. Any suggestions?
  • My NS said they swelling after a fusion surgery is normal. My legs became swollen all the way to my hips. I gained 30 pounds in water weight. They checked me for blood clots just in case.
    Discectomies 05/08 and 04/11, fusions L4-5 Feb 9,2012 and L3-L4 June 28,2012, Staph infection washout 3/2/2012, Bulged L5-S1. SCS trial on January 17th, 2014, which was a success! Permanent SCS on February 20th.
  • and i am still in pain but the thing i was worried about was both my lower legs and feet are still swollen BUT the go down if i have not been bending {i can feel pressure around the scar if i bend or twist as to wash ones self } or to reach something like getting stuff out of the washing machine.i asked the consultant last months and he was NOT worried and told me i was a impatient patient and a worrier ! and told me that it going take a long time for things to settle down and then told me i have something called ;;;hot foot ..?/ and that's cause by the sympathetic nerves ??? but i do worry and i hate the look of my legs and feet .i did have nice legs and feet but now i look like and old man ..YUK ..all that looking after myself until i was 30 .not drinking/not smoking not doing drugs not sleeping around swimming every day . keeping my weight to a health one .the BANG car crash {not my fault] and my life is ruined not fair ..sorry for ranting i am so bloody sick of being ill ..
    tony {UK}.
    1997 laminectomy
    2007 repeat laminectomy and discectomy L4/L5
    2011 ALIF {L4/L5/S1}
    2012 ? bowel problems .still under investigation
    2014 bladder operation may 19th 2014
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